Domestic abuse is a serious issue that affects hundreds of millions of men, women and children across the world every year. It is often condemned in the US and Europe, and with great conviction. It’s often called out for what it is – the gross and cowardly behaviour of a tyrant prone to emotional and physical abuse of the ones they love. You would think that celebrities—people whose entire careers can be ruined with one bad film, or who can have their faces plastered over every magazine because of one bad picture—would not be able to commit this atrocity without everyone knowing about it, right? The way people reacted to Johnny Depp after his dispute with Amber Heard would seem to confirm this, but it isn’t necessarily true. Many actors and celebrities have a history of domestic abuse and despite it being public knowledge, no one seems to care. Here are just five you might not be aware of.
1. Sean Penn
Sean Penn is a world-famous actor with multiple Academy Award nominations and winner of two Best-Actor awards for Mystic River and Milk. He is celebrated for his subtle and talented performances of tortured individuals struggling against adversity and is also a strong vocal critic of George W. Bush’s administration. Despite being a strong proponent of human rights and good causes he hides an unfortunate incident in his past. During his early marriage with famous singer songwriter Madonna it is alleged he kidnapped her, held her hostage for nine hours, struck her with a baseball bat and sexually assaulted her.
2. Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard is an Academy Award nominated actor with famous roles in Iron Man, Prisoners and The Butler. He has often courted controversy by making dubious and unsubstantiated claims about his educational history, touting his own bizarre math-philosophy called “Terryology”. In might come as no surprise given his eccentric behaviour that he’s something of an unstable individual, having been arrested six different times for violence against women. Once against an air stewardess, once against his wife, once for assaulting a US Marine and his wife at a restaurant, once more for violence against his wife, once more against his girlfriend and *sigh* again he was arrested for violence against wife #2. Clearly Terryology teaches some interesting things about controlling your temper.
3. John Lennon
John Lennon doesn’t need an introduction. The most famous of the Beatles and the one to whom their success is most often attributed. Lennon was also renowned for a floppy-haired “make love not war” philosophy that he preached with his wife Yoko Ono. However, he is less well-known for his violent predisposition towards women. His relationship with Yoko Ono was not only controlling (insisting she go to the bathroom with him, and accompany him everywhere). But even before he regularly beat the mother of his first child, and his own son, for the smallest of things.
4. James Brown
The Godfather of Soul and the Creator of Funk, James Brown is a legend in music. He is considered one of the greatest artists of all time, and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century. But after his death his daughter, Yamma Brown, revealed some troubling details about her father in her memoirs. Sadly, she revealed that he regularly beat both her and her mother while under the influence of drugs.
5. Mel Gibson
Unlike some of the others on this list, Mel Gibson’s history of domestic violence hardly even stands out. Drunken driving, racist and anti-Semitic tirades, and most recently, a violent and disgusting racist rant against the same woman who accused of him of assault during the late 2000s. Mel Gibson’s assault charge was so serious he only avoided jail by pleading guilty and striking a deal. To this day it remains one of the more notable moments of violence and ill-temper from a man whose profile is practically defined by it.